Gold and Silver as Currency

Gold and Silver as Currency

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Excerpt from Gold and Silver as Currency: In the Light of Experience, Historical, Economical, and Practical

The division of labor, also, not only between the states and the peoples of a single country, but between the nations of the earth, is the highest type of universal civilization. The exchange of products, skilled labor, and inventions being the substance of commerce, is the bond of social intercourse both at home and abroad. Every impediment in the way of building up our own commerce and extending our trade with other nations is a hindrance to the progress of civilization and a hindrance to the payment of our just debts, which can only be paid with our own products and the thrift of our own people. England, France, Germany, and Holland have purchased our securities with gold: we cannot legislate their payment in silver. By the full amount of our foreign indebtedness, we are now under bonds to preserve a gold basis with those countries, and we cannot change it until we pay our debts, and then we will not want to. Destroying our credit is a very poor way to pay debts.

Before the Civil War "cotton was king," and supplied a larger volume of exchange on London than any other product in this country. When the writer was in Egypt in 1859 cotton was a very scarce commodity in the port of Alexandria; now every mill in New England and old England buys Egyptian cotton, and cheap labor in the valley of the Nile and in India affects the great staple of our Southern States unfavorably. We cannot prohibit its importation without promoting increased cultivation in Egypt and India. The Soudan is the natural cotton country of the world, and it is larger than the United States. England has long been reaching out for that prize and will get it soon.

These economic questions cannot be controlled by legislation, any more than we can force the cultivation of tea and coffee in Colorado and Montana. The silver miners in those States get from $3.50 to $4.00 per day for their labor; the Egyptian fellaheen are content to raise cotton for a mere fraction of such wages, where food, shelter, and clothing cost little, and being deprived of the last would not cause them to suffer.

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